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Preds fans have been packing Bridgestone Arena

Jan 19, 2012, 6:19 PM EDT

Preds fans Getty Images

The Nashville Predators saw a franchise-record streak come to an end last Thursday when the Colorado Avalanche came to town. After eight straight sellouts, a few hundred seats at Bridgestone Arena sat empty.

Not to worry though – two nights later, the place was packed again for the Flyers.

Saturday the Blackhawks are the visitors, so you can probably chalk up another full house.

Meanwhile, the players have taken notice of the surging attendance.

“Oh, it’s great,” Preds forward Patric Hornqvist said last week. “It’s always more fun. There’s lots of people in the building. Yeah, I think this town is starting to pick up hockey hockey-wise. You get recognized more and more in the streets and everybody likes to talk about hockey. Good for us, good for the fans and great for the owners. Yeah, it’s fun.”

The Preds are averaging 16,653 per game (97.3% capacity) and on pace to break their single-season attendance record.

Two seasons ago, they averaged 14,979.

In 2002-03, they finished dead last in the NHL, averaging 13,228.

Today the team announced that – “due to overwhelming demand and growing ticket lines” – a raffle would be introduced to allocate the limited supply of “Day of Game” tickets that go for $10.

Of course, all the good attendance news heaps more and more pressure on general manager David Poile to get Ryan Suter and Shea Weber locked up for the long term. The Preds finally have momentum in the Nashville sports market. But lose their two best players and who knows if the fans will keep packing the place.

  1. crnvic847 - Jan 19, 2012 at 6:27 PM

    Saturday night’s game against the Blackhawks will definitely be a sellout but there will be more hawks fans than preds fans. And I will be one of them.

  2. vshehane - Jan 19, 2012 at 6:46 PM

    There have never been more Hawks fans than Preds fans in the house. But you band wagoners do like to show up and act like the worlds biggest A-holes.

  3. sknut - Jan 19, 2012 at 6:46 PM

    Good for Nashville and good for the NHL to show that hockey can work in non-traditional markets. They have a good thing going and good for the fans to show up.

  4. kicksave1980 - Jan 19, 2012 at 7:26 PM

    vshehane- I know what you’re talking about. I’ve been a Hawks fan my whole life. As a season ticket holder, I can tell you that from 1998-2004, I essentially had an entire section to myself. Most people didn’t care about the Hawks…even the news didn’t show highlights. As a Hawks fan, I hate those bandwagon pricks more than anyone else.

    When you’re at the game, ask them if they know who Jocelyn Thibault, Doug Zmolek, or Jean-Yves Leroux are…see how many blank stares you get. Ask them if they remember when JP Dumont was on a line with Eric Daze and Alex Zhamnov.

    • vshehane - Jan 19, 2012 at 9:57 PM

      I really miss J P in Nashville. One of the nicest, most generous guys ever. He was so available to the fans and did so much charitable work in Nashville.

  5. dakota111 - Jan 19, 2012 at 9:38 PM

    kicksave1980..you are my favorite Blackhawk fan. The ones that sit in the old Chicago Stadium and pulled for your team good or bad. I lived in Chicago in the mid to late 90’s and most games you could pick your section and seat. While I couldn’t afford season tickets at the time I really enjoyed going to games and tried to go to at least 15 to 20 a year. Now I am a season ticket holder for the Predators and while I love to talk to the true Blackhawks fans their bandwagon fans drive me nuts. They are more cocky than Red Wings fans and you would think they won the Stanley Cup for several years in a row.

    Also they have never been more Hawks fans than Preds fan, the largest Hawks crowd I have ever seen was last season when they were almost 4,000 fans in the building. Of course Nashville held a youth hockey tournament that weekend and there were several teams from Chicago and the tournament was announced the same week as the NHL schedule came out.

  6. dakota111 - Jan 19, 2012 at 9:40 PM

    crnvic847 There can’t be more hawks fans in the arena as the Preds have 11,000 season ticket holders now in a 17,113 arena.

  7. nhlbruins90 - Jan 19, 2012 at 10:34 PM

    Put on a good show night after night, and people will show up. Everybody loves a winner (but when you lose, you lose alone.)

    I can see how the visiting fans annoy the locals, but hey, their money is good too. B’s fans are packing them in all over the country, but especially in places like Phoenix, FLA, and tonight in Jersey. It must REALLY piss them off when we start the ‘Here we go Bruins, here we go’ chant in their building, but really, they should be happy anybody is showing up.

    There are always plenty of Ranger fans in TD Garden for the Saturday afternoon game in January, and this weekend should be no exception, other than the tickets costing a few more bucks. It’s a weird feeling to hear so many Ranger fans cheering, but it does give the building an extra electricity that you don’t normally have.

  8. bostonsfullofrats - Jan 20, 2012 at 1:06 AM

    http://m.youtube.com/#/watch?v=npn0dyhSyr0

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